Thursday, January 31, 2008
You are my motivation. I love you.
Is she not the most beautiful F55-59 Triathlete out there?!
Sally Long: named All American this year by Triathlete Magazine! It's nice to know that not only does hard work pay off, it doesn't go unnoticed either. Congratulations!
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
How could I pass that up? Going to see a documentary about marathon training/racing with one of my endurance heroes.
I first met Mike, last year, when he was training for the Umstead 100 Mile Ultra (North Carolina). He was looking for people to “pace” him from mile 50 on… Robin called to see if I was interested.
I didn’t even have to think about it – Heck YES!! I wanted to see people that could run 100 miles nonstop; better yet, let me run (some of it) with them! However, after agreeing, I got worried – what kind of pace did he want to run? Would I hold him back? I was quickly assured that “pacing” really means: running alongside Mike, carrying the light & water, keeping him sane w/ some conversation, and encouraging.
The 12.5 mile loop I did with Mike, in the middle of the night, was one of the most interesting runs I’ve ever completed. Ultra running is a totally different world. We’re used to triathlons… everyone has the latest, greatest, most expensive, aerodynamic, moisture wicking, top of the line equipment an athlete can find.
Ultra Athletes… not so much. These people are hard-core. Bandannas, salted potato wedges, bloody/blistered feet, t’shirt and running shorts… While triathletes are begging for wetsuits, these people are asking for tougher courses, steeper climbs, crazier trails, more challenging weather. There are only a handful of people seeking a “win.” For all other participants it’s about simply finishing or setting a new PR.
If I remember correctly, I began running with Mike as he set out on mile 70. It was the middle of the night, but the moon was full and we could see the trail without the use of our headlamps. Surprisingly, Mike was in great spirits (now knowing his positive nature, I shouldn’t have expected anything less)… but, if you made me run 70 miles… I don’t think I would be in such a “nice” mood. After awhile, he was asking how I was doing – and if I needed anything?!
Those miles, submerged in the world of Ultra runners, I witnessed a new level of athletic persistence and determination. There was absolutely no tension or spiteful competition between competitors… they were helping one another. (fyi, pepto bismol is to an Ultra Runner what cigarettes are to prison inmates). In many of my own races since then (including my most recent half) I have drawn on memories from that night for personal motivation.
Mike finished that race – and drove his own car to the hotel. He’s now training for Western States (a point to point 100 mile race)… *in his career, he’s raced over 70 marathons… and does about 4 Ultra Events each year!
So, who better to watch The Spirit of the Marathon with? We grabbed a bite at the Atlanta Bread Co. and got seats at the theater. Who’s who in the Greenville running community packed the place.
If you get a chance to see this film, I highly recommend it: whether you’re an athlete or not… it’s an inspirational story about 5 very different runners. From beginner to elite – each facing their own challenges, each striving for a different kind of success.
· Ryan Bradley - Boston Hopeful
· Leah Caille - First-Time Marathoner
· Deena Kastor - 2004 Olympic Bronze Medalist
· Jerry Meyers - Four-Time Marathoner
· Daniel Njenga - World Class Marathoner
· Lori O'Connor - First-Time Marathoner
Monday, January 28, 2008
This was my 2nd (and final) running of the AORTA (Auburn-Opelika Running & Track Association) Half Marathon. Both times I justified running a very early season half… with the added bonus of visiting my sister. Well, Sarah – in 2009, I’m thinking about just coming to see you… forget the race, hanging out with you is well worth the drive.
Speaking of the drive, I lucked out this year. Greenville, SC is connected to Auburn, AL via I85… which, as many of you know, runs straight through Atlanta. And Atlanta, I’m convinced, can have some of the worst traffic you’ve ever not moved through. But this year, I somehow managed to avoid any major hold-ups. The drive was pleasant, the weather was good, traffic minimal, and the radio was pumping out great country music… see, heading toward Alabama, I wanted to get my head in the game. The further South I go from Greenville, the more fitting country tunes feel.
I got to Auburn in good time, then found Sarah at her boyfriend, Vaughn’s, house. Sweet Sarah had already gone to the store for pasta… so we cooked it up and swapped some stories. I’d had a long day: short run – work – off site meeting – back to the office – drive from SC to AL… I was ready for bed. Off to Sarah’s and I fell right asleep.
*Around 3:00 am, I woke up to the sound of pouring rain hitting the roof.
This can’t be good…
Rain rain go away…
I woke up again at 4:30… still raining.
Then, I woke up to my alarm at 6. Yes, rain rain rain
I tried to not think about it – I dug through my clothes for something that had a chance of keeping me warm/dry. If I had not driven all the way from G’ville… I would have crawled right back under the covers. But, I’d signed up, committed to the race, driven all the way down… so I was going to run.
Sarah was a great sport about the whole thing. She got up, got dressed, and drove me to the race start (taking the long way so that we could drive along the course). I tried to ignore the rain, concentrated on warm thoughts, and began listing things I wanted to do after the race (shower, coffee, food, pj’s, nap).
I hopped out of the car at the sports club (race site) and Sarah took off to pick up Vaughn. Going into the club, I actually had to laugh out loud… a bunch of runners, numbers on, huddled inside to eek out the last remaining dry minutes, awaiting the chance to run 13.1 hilly miles in freezing rain. What a fun Saturday morning?!
I needed to warm up… so went back outside to run around the parking lot. Within those 50 yards, I knew this race was going to be a challenge. A few times back and forth (not the warm up I’d hoped for) and I was back with the mass inside.
The race coordinator had to herd us from the club to the start. A few short words, and then I heard “start.” 170 crazy people began running.
At the first mile, I found myself in 4th place overall. One woman and one man had taken it out fast. There was another guy about 20 yards ahead of me… and I checked out his pace. Feeling comfortable, I kept my eyes on his feet and stayed with him. Aside from the rain and cold, I felt good.
Simply watching the guy in front of me – and trying to avoid deep puddles on the road was how it went for 5 miles. At mile five, we took a turn onto a bike path. This is where the shorter/steeper hills began… as well as the unavoidable puddles. SPLASH – both shoes now soaking.
Soon, I spotted the lead runner – female – coming toward me. She was smokin’ up the wet course. The guy ahead of me and I made the turn and then passed the first place male, who seemed to be slowing.
My spirits lifted upon making the turn. Seeing the other people out there kept my mind off my freezing feet.
We turned left off the bike path… and began the uphill trend (looking at my Garmin after the race I realized that the race was basically out-down and back-up). The wind was now in my face. I had to keep my eyes lowered… and my lips felt swollen from the cold. I pumped my arms more to stay warm.
I saw Sarah and Vaughn on a corner – yelling and cheering for me to keep going.
Unfortunately, mile 9 was where it all kinda went bad. On top of the cold extremities and face – I began feeling stomach cramps like I’d never experienced during a race. My pace slowed… it actually felt better running uphill because my body was more hunched over. On the downhills/flats, it was excruciating to open up my stride.
Sarah drove by and honked the horn. After I saw the car pass by, I actually stopped. I stood there trying to breath. I covered my face with my hands… and realized how numb the skin was. In that moment, which felt like 5 minutes – and was probably 20 seconds, I contemplated quitting. Aloud I said, “this is stupid!” What was I doing, why had I even gotten out of bed, most normal people are still dry – asleep (or at least running on a treadmill!).
I was frozen, soaking wet, suffering from horrible stomach cramps, and alone on the road.
Starting to run again I realized why I was out there. My body was ready to race 13.1 miles… but I needed this training day. This was a mental test. I had to push myself forward.
Some men started passing me around mile 11. I tried to speed back up to hang with them, but my iced-over quads didn’t respond. This was my race to finish; I tried to focus on making it through the final miles.
Normally, I’m able to pick up the pace in the last mile – finish strong. But not that day. I forged up the last hill across the finish line. Oh that felt so good.
After a quick hi/thanks to Sarah & Vaughn, I was off to find a HOT shower. I eased my way down the stairs to the locker room, peeled off my clothes, and stepped under the borderline scalding water. I let the water run over me – I actually imagined it wash away the pain of the race. I felt the pins & needles on my skin as sensation returned.
Dry clothes haven’t felt that good in a long time. Well, the clothes + a Chick-fil-A chicken biscuit… and I was a new person.
As Sarah and I made our way to her car, it began to snow… something Auburn hadn’t seen in 2 years. After a coffee stop Sarah tucked me back into bed. This is where I remained until we ventured out for dinner.
Sarah – thank you SO MUCH for being the most wonderful sister. I promise that next time we get together, I’ll be more fun.
Friday, January 25, 2008
The PINK is for Jen Harrison (just see her website, and you'll understand)
The YELLOW is because research told me to:
Put some yellow in your life when you want clarity for decision-making, relief from 'burnout', panic, nervousness, exhaustion, sharper memory and concentration skills, and protection from lethargy and depression during dull weather.
The GREEN and BLUE is for Team Greenville!
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
- Heather May, #1 OA... and Olympic Hopeful (wow!)
- 1st place male went a 1:31
- So, I'm happy with 2nd female, 10th OA, finishing, and posting a 1:35
...we miraculously pulled off the Auburn Classic Half Marathon last weekend under a pouring rain with temperatures maxing out around 37. Do you know what happens when it's cold and then you get drenched? Yep, you think you are going to die! Luckily, we only had a couple of runners drop out due to the cold which was much better than I had expected. Tracey did her typical superb job of keeping things on track under terrible conditions and in spite of the rain we ended up with over 140 runners passing through the finish line. For the first time that I can ever remember we had a female as the overall winner but it wasn't a surprise. Olympic hopeful Heather May finished in 1:25 while Andy Taylor came in with 1:31. I was pretty amazed at how well everyone did under such terrible conditions.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Friday, January 18, 2008
After work, I’m getting in the car and driving to LA (ha ha, Lower Alabama). A quick weekend visit with my sister combined with the AORTA ½ Marathon. I ran this race last year – and after fighting a mad headwind, while running uphill, from mile 10 to 12.5… I never thought I’d do it again. But, I’m excited about spending some time with Sarah… the race is just one more reason to go (and who can pass up a long sleeve under-armor race t’shirt?!). The forecast is calling for cold and “extreme winds” tomorrow morning, and I don’t think that long hill has gone anywhere, so this could be 2007 revisited. Bring it on! I am from Illinois, right? Shouldn’t I be used to cold and windy conditions?!
Also on the roadways, we have Sally driving from IL to SC. Now that she’s retired, her attitude seems to revolve around freedom – and it should! It becomes her: do anything, anytime, anywhere… there are no restraints! So, she decided to throw her bike in the car and come on down. Love it! I think her priority is to see her mother, aunt, and uncle. I’ll be back in town on Sunday, with Monday off (go MLK). I think we’ll try to get a ride in at some point.
Doug is traveling the furthest – and is therefore going via plane. I must say his destination might be the winner: Briny Breezes, FL (just south of W. Palm Beach). He’ll be with his mother, Grandma Jo (XO, love you!). Being the good son he is, I’m sure he’ll be helping out with minor repairs and such. I also heard that Grandma was making homemade chocolate chip cookies. Wow, that sounds a bit better than running 13.1 miles on a windy/hilly/chilly course.
Sarah: please stay where you are, because I’ll be on my way here shortly. Can’t wait to see you – get your pom poms ready, I’ll need your support tomorrow morning.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
I woke up at 4:30 to assess the situation - wondering if swim practice would be canceled? Here's what I've learned: if you can see a flake of snow, everything is closed & you won't be able to find a loaf of bread anywhere. Not that I'd go shopping for bread if I thought I might be stranded at my house for days. Hey, my stash of Clif Bars would go to good use!
So, I crawled back under the covers. As I drifted off... I had to chuckle. My friends in Illinois would call this a "dusting," and here we are acting like a blizzard tackled G'vegas. Not to worry, all is well. And, my office opened an hour late ;) Below are some pictures people sent in to the news:
ps: the caption for this one read... "a driver braves the harsh conditions on Woodruff Rd."
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
The 2008 South Carolina Triathlon Series Racing Team Has Been Selected
The 2008 SCTS Racing Team is:
- Bryan Benitez-Nelson - Columbia, SC (Team Captain and returning team member)
- Katie Malone - Tryon, NC (Team Captain and returning team member)
- Rebecca Gottbrath - Raleigh, NC (Returning team member)
- Chris Smutzer - Fountain Inn, SC (NEW TEAM MEMBER)
- Carolyn Arnemann - Florence, SC (NEW TEAM MEMBER)
- Hugh Myrick - Charleston, SC (NEW TEAM MEMBER)
- Ashley Long - Greenville, SC (NEW TEAM MEMBER)
- Eric Stone - Easley, SC (NEW TEAM MEMBER)
Selection to the team comes with a two year term, meaning the five new team members will remain on the SCTS Racing team through the 2009 season.
Set Up Events is happy to support the SCTS Racing Team in an effort to promote participation in its South Carolina Triathlon Series while rewarding those athletes who continue to give back to the sport of triathlon and his/ her fellow athletes. Thank you for your participation in the 2007 SCTS and we hope to see you again in 2008.
Set Up Events - SC
Thursday, January 10, 2008
So, when my alarm went off at 4:50 - I actually didn't mind getting out of bed for swim practice. Jumping into the pool sounded a bit more inviting than running in chilly rain.
That's when it HIT me! It was Raining... NOT snowing! Awesome! While getting my swim bag together, I thought about all those early mornings in Illinois. The wind blowing so hard, you could feel it whip through the walls; snow covering everything in sight; the cold biting any bit of exposed skin as you dart from house to car. Having to bundle up in multiple layers, coat, scarf, hat, gloves, boots... only to find out that your car locks are frozen. Oooo, bad memories.
Although it was VERY early in the morning, and I was getting ready for a swim workout (he he, not my favorite), I felt lucky. All I had to put on over my suit was a zip up fleece and sweat pants. I wore crocs with no socks. Left my house in the dark and didn't feel a sting from cold. There was no need to start my car and let it run to warm up.
I had a great workout! (maybe the result of starting w/ a positive attitude?!) Fun times in the lane with Robin and her parachute... LOL.
And I left the pool with a smile on my face. My hair was wet, but it didn't freeze into icicles on my walk to the car; I'd accomplished a solid workout; there was time to prepare an actual breakfast before work; and tomorrow is Friday!
Did I mention that I love South Carolina?! Maybe someday I'll love swimming too, but let's not get ahead of ourselves...
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Jen, I really wanted to take some time… reread this, let it soak in, and think about the WHY. So, earlier today I saved it on my laptop… and now I’m sitting on the couch at 9:45 pm with thoughts floating around in my brain.
Please let me start by saying how much I respect you as a person, a mother, a wife, a friend, an athlete, and a COACH. Personally seeing how invested and passionate you are about your athletes… and now reading this… well, it makes me feel incredibly lucky to have you as my new “athletic mother.”
This is not to inflate your ego (ha, you know you’re loved) – but to tell you a bit more about WHY I called you on Sunday about coaching. The timing of your WHY blog seems right on. The WHY brought me to you.
I have been blessed with athletic genes and a competitive drive. These internal forces have taken me far… in a sport I knew little about 4 years ago. Luckily, my parents encouraged an active lifestyle as I grew up. And at each meet/competition/race, a voice inside me screamed, “be your best - push to your limit.” I learned that to strive for the best, one must realize physical pain… and began to understand how it can talk to you. Sometimes the pain indicates an injury… but the good pain, the hurts-so-good pain… that pain signifies a new level: you're getting stronger, faster, higher.
I embrace pain… and sometimes it’s that pain which gets me through the day/week/month.
So, I come to you. Throughout my tri-career… I’ve thought of you as a mentor. Many amazing athletes have helped me along the way. My journey in the triathlon world was rough at first (who likes being beaten by both their mom and dad?!), but I quickly began to figure things out. I learned things at each race (and still do), soaked up advice like a sponge (and still do), and put plans together for myself.
Some people are able to hire coaches right off the bat. They are fortunate to have that luxury. I however, being young, didn’t have the financial means when I got started… but, again was SO lucky to train with you, Karyn, my parents, Peter, etc… Not only is a coach expensive, it’s a huge commitment (for both athlete and coach). As a 24/25 year old, I was not ready to “marry” triathlon.
But, the time has come. I’m ready to say I DO!
I’ve realized this addiction is not going to go away. My love for training/racing is true through and through. And if I’m going to enter into this marriage, I want to do it the best way I know how.
I’m making the commitment. This was not a quick decision… tri’s and I have been dating for about 4 years. After serious thought, I decided I am ready for a coach. It’s the only way I know to grow as an athlete... and, going "coach-less" for the past couple of seasons - your advice and leadership will not be taken for granted. In thinking about a coach, your name came to mind first. I ran down the list of other options… but, I know you’re the guide I’m looking for. I respect you, I know how dedicated you are, and I know you’ll push me – to my limits and beyond. You'll make me suffer… but, I know I’ll have serious fun along the way.
Jen - I'm ready. Bring on the PAIN!
Monday, January 7, 2008
by: Joshilyn Jackson
My take: Sweet Home Alabama meets The Ya Ya Sisterhood.
Combines two locations I know well... the deep South and Chicago! This book captures you right from the start. Here's the opening line:
"THERE ARE GODS in Alabama: Jack Daniel's, high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits, and also Jesus. I left one back there myself, back in Possett. I kicked it under the kudzu and left it to the roaches."
The Memory of Running
by: Ron McLarty
My take: fyi, not about running (even though the word is in the title ;) But, I fell in love with this story. Just imagine Forrest Gump... but, instead of taking off and running across the country, this guy is on a bike... and substitute depression for Forrest's mentally challenged state. Such an interesting book, and you'll grow attached to the main character.
The Wonder Spot
by: Melissa Bank
My take: Such a fun book (reminded me of Bridget Jones Diary). This story follows Sophie Applebaum through 3 generations of her life. At points, I found myself laughing out loud. This author also wrote, A Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing.
by: John Grisham
My take: It's by Grisham. You know the style. Great book... interesting plot involving a Presidential Pardon, high tech security infiltration, the CIA hiding a guy in Italy... yup, it'll be a movie soon.
The Fifth Vial
by: Michael Palmer
My take: Oooh, page turner for sure! It's a medical thriller.... People stealing organs to save the World's elite. And, to you my triathlon friends, the main character is a fictional ex-Olympic track hopeful. They actually do talk about her running career, how it ended with an achilles injury, and how she got back into running.
*Above are the 5 books I completed over the Holidays. Some good reading here folks!
After way too many hours waiting at the airport...
*My flights had arrived on schedule... unfortunately, my family was flying out of Chicago. And you know how flights from ORD in December can see delays ;). Basically, I had to entertain myself at the Guadalajara airport for 7 HOURS!
....and a coma-like night of sleep, we stuffed ourselves and luggage in to the Ford Fiesta and took off – Westbound.
Driving around Guadalajara was surprisingly easy… very well marked interstate system. Once we got out of the city, I was amazed. The countryside was beautiful and I could see the mountains rising in the distance.
That’s when I heard my dad say, “we’re about to pass Tequila.”
“Tequila… as in Tequila, Mexico. The town. It’s where they grow agave.”
Oh, YES… we must stop. When you’re on a road trip through Mexico, and you’re going to pass Tequila… you must at least stop.
So, we exit the highway and hang a left into Tequila. Immediately, we’re driving behind a ginormous tequila barrel on wheels… carting people through town and offering free shots. I began looking for the oversized lime.
We found a parking spot, and then Tequila found 4 Long members (sporting a nice shade of winter white) roaming the streets. All of us were hungry and ready for lunch. I kid you not, we stopped at a restaurant… and before we even ordered (like some restaurants might bring bread to the table)… this place brought margaritas. Ye-Haw.
The food was excellent as well (but, come to think of it… after 2 Clif bars, a mocha drink from D’Donuts, and a tea from Starbucks… I hadn’t eaten real food in about 24 hrs). AND after lunch was cleared, they brought shots of tequila. Various flavors we were to sample. Well, they do live up to their name.
Back to the car and onto the highway. The remainder of the trip (which started to feel too long in the Fiesta) was very scenic. I’ve never thought of Mexico as mountainous… but it is! After seeing gorgeous landscape views, many toll stops, and even a few Mexican cyclists… we reached our final destination: Rincon de Guyabitos.
Now, let me tell you… this is NO Cancun. Rincon de Guyabitos is where Mexicans vacation. Caucasians, or Americans in general, are few and far between here in Guyabitos.
I must take a second to thank my parents. They’ve really made my sister and I versatile travelers. From five star hotels and resorts, to cockroach motels in Tennessee, to riverside tents in Missouri, to sleeping in our van somewhere in Kentucky (no vacancy anywhere), to beachfront condos in Rincon de Guyabitos or Zihuatnejo… we stayed in ‘em all. I’ve grown to love the diversity and adventure traveling can offer.
The condos Buena Vista were perfect accommodations. Two bedroom, two bath, living room, kitchen, and washer/dryer… nice patio right by the pool – overlooking the ocean. I listened to the waves all night.
Our days quickly fell into routine. Sleep until you wake up (around 8:00 am), drink coffee (outside), read a bit, change into running clothes…
*The area was experiencing much cooler weather than normal for this time of year. As our family was expecting mid 80’s… it was actually chilly at night and the highs during the day were in the 70’s (maybe 80’s in the sun). This isn’t great beach weather, but it was wonderful for running. Most mornings Sarah and Mom would run together, I’d go solo, and Dad would walk the beach (and buy fresh shrimp for lunch).
The rest of the afternoon was all about some laziness. Nap, read, stretch, snack, nap, read, finish a book, start a new book, get something to drink, flip through a magazine… you see the pattern. Around 6:00 we’d all clean up and walk around town. The big decision of the day was where to eat dinner.
We did take some fieldtrips here and there. Drove to Puerta Vallarta for shopping, cruise ship viewing, and dinner. We also went to a nearby town for their version of a flea market… now that was sensory overload.
But, I think we all really enjoyed experiencing Rincon de Guyabitos: the street vendors, brick roadways, bus loads of Mexican vacationers, awesome authentic Mexican food, sunshine… and… being together as a family!
Friday, January 4, 2008
Shopping in Puerto Vallarta
Downtown Guyabitos Eating... YUM
Thursday, January 3, 2008
2008 is underway… and it’s off to a good start. I did make a few New Years Resolutions. The 1st being to invest time, money, and love into fixing up the house! I’ve got a guy coming to work on the roof this weekend! The living room is also coming together nicely, as I added two new chairs, a lamp, a new rug, some throw pillows… no longer will I be forcing all my guests to share couch space (the only piece of furniture in my living room for the past year). After the roof problem is resolved, I’m moving on to the kitchen. Here I need new floor, counter tops, cabinets… might knock out a wall and extend the counter… new dishwasher and sink… alright, I’ve just listed a complete overhaul. Next on the list I’ll tackle the bathrooms. Then on to paint and window treatments. And then it will be 2010!
Quick football note: GO DAWGS! (sorry Bree) The UGA Bulldogs whomped up on some Hawaii Warriors (I do miss the Rainbows!). Also, congrats to Auburn (Sarah) and Missouri (Dad). The entire family celebrated bowl victories. Mom, when is Converse going to get a football team ;)
Watching the Clemson/AU game was how I brought in the New Year. On January 1st, I woke up to chilly/windy conditions and decided to kick it off right with a 65 mile group ride. HA! Carolina Triathlon had organized a ride… two groups (A & B) leaving the store at 10:00. So, I left with the A’s and forced myself to hang until about mile 20. About 8 of us fell back and battled the wind together for the rest of the 45 uncomfortable miles. It was windy, it felt like 100 miles, and had I known a shortcut… I would have been all over it! But, we finished… then, I got to see the Dawgs win. Not a bad 1st day of the year.
Next on the agenda is a ½ marathon in Auburn with sister Sarah! I’m also thinking about going to Charlotte for a Masters Swim Meet on Jan 26/27! It’s no secret that swimming and I don’t get along… but, I do like swim meets, huh?
But first, it’s a Friday celebration (do we need any other reason?!) at Vino 100. Making it through this week at work (even thought it was short) is definitely grounds for a toast.